The Bengals are still deciding whether or not to sign veteran free agent safety Eric Reid to the roster.
Despite being one of the more talented and versatile safeties of this free agency class, Reid didn’t garner a lot of attention. His first visit came with the Bengals on April 9th, and it is shocking it took him this long to even get a visit after hitting free agency in March.
Free agency has pretty much been put on hold with the draft quickly approaching. Usually, the only remaining players are veterans nearing the end of their career as teams would rather add a young rookie at the position instead of paying a veteran who may be beyond their prime. But that’s not really the case with Reid who is still a starting-caliber safety and someone the Bengals could use in their defense.
One reason people think Reid has waited this long to find a team is because he was one of the first players to show support of Colin Kaepernick’s protesting during the national anthem.
Even Reid himself suspects the anthem protests are the reason it's taking him so long to find a new team.
“The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too,” Reid tweeted in March.
Reid also tweeted, “GMs aren’t the hold up broski. It’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character.”
It is obviously a very polarizing subject, but it is one that has clearly affected Kaepernick’s career as he never signed with a team last season.
Some will say he didn’t have the talent to be on a roster, but Kaepernick is a guy who helped get a team to a Super Bowl, and you never see those guys not get a shot on a second team.
Since Reid attached himself to the protest, there is a reasonable assumption that teams are showing some hesitancy in signing the safety, just as Kaepernick remains unsigned.
That topic came up during Reid’s free agent visit with the Bengals. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Bengals owner Mike Brown explained that he doesn’t want any players kneeling during the national anthem.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Brown personally met with Reid when Reid visited the Bengals on Monday. Brown, according to the source, initiated discussion regarding the issue of kneeling during the anthem. The conversation almost exclusively centered on the topic, with Brown explaining that he intends to prohibit it — and with Brown at one point asking Reid for his response.
Reid, caught off guard by the line of questioning, wasn’t willing to make a commitment on the spot.
After the meeting with Brown, Reid would meet with Bengals coaches and take a physical. But at one point, head coach Marvin Lewis attempted to get another answer from Reid on his stance with the national anthem kneeling, and none came. Neither did a contract offer.
It’s unclear if this means no contract offer will come for Reid, but it’s safe to think it’s in jeopardy if both sides can’t reach a mutual understanding on the issue.
Reid had hoped to bury those worries by letting everyone know that he won’t be protesting during the national anthem anymore, according to ESPN.
“I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active because I won’t,” Reid told ESPN. “I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country and improve on the issues happening in this country. I don’t think it will be in the form of protesting during the anthem. I say ‘during’ because it’s crazy that the narrative changed to we were ‘protesting the anthem,’ and that wasn’t the case. I think we’re going to take a different approach to how we’re going to be active.”
No matter where you stand on the issue, it seems Reid will find a different avenue for his protest than during the anthem. It’s natural this topic would come up when Reid met with the Bengals and isn’t really cause for alarm. At least the Bengals were willing to give him a chance by bringing him in for a visit, which is more than any other NFL team can say at this time.